Last season the Edmonton Rush used their transition game to help get within a goal of the National Lacrosse League final.
On Friday, that facet of play got even better with a pair of selections in the Orlando Titans dispersal draft.
Rush head coach and general manager Derek Keenan took defender Bill Greer and forward Matt Alrich in the draft, which he expects to give his team even more speed next season.
“Bill’s a real solid defender, but with good transition skills and a good finisher around the net,” Keenan said. “He’s the kind of guy that fits into our system as a guy that plays both ends of the floor and wants to push the tempo of the game.
“He makes us better. He steps into our team and is probably one of our top five or six back-door guys (defender). He’s that good of a player.”
Last season, Greer, 29, had seven goals and 13 assists in 14 games with the Titans, who have decided not to participate in the 2011 season, electing to restructure their ownership group.
Prior to joining the Titans, Greer spent time in New York, Anaheim, Arizona and Columbus. He was originally the ninth overall pick in the 2001 NLL Entry Draft.
“He’s from my area, he’s from Whitby, Ont.,” Keenan said. “I had him for a brief time in Anaheim back in 2005. He has played for me before. He’s a solid player who is familiar with a lot of our guys and he’ll fit in really well.”
In Alrich, the Rush get a player who set a career high in scoring with 10 goals and nine assists for 19 points last season.
A former all-conference player at the University of Delaware, Alrich had previous stints with New York and San Jose.
“He’s a big, strong American kid that played mostly offence for Orlando last year,” Keenan said. “But I like him more as a defensive, transition guy.
“The objective is to try and move him somewhere East, but he also expressed interest that he would play for us if it didn’t happen, which is really good to hear because, sometimes, you get American guys who live on the East coast who can really only play there. But he did say that if we couldn’t move him, he would be able to play, so that’s really good as well.”
With Orlando not fielding a team next season, the league has decided to expand rosters to 18 runners, up from 16, which also benefits the Rush.
“For me, that gives us an opportunity to ramp up our game even more next year,” Keenan said. “I think last year we had the highest tempo of style in the league in terms of our transition game. This gives us an opportunity to increase it even more. That’s why we brought in someone like Bill Greer who can help that.”
Heading into next season, the Rush are hoping to improve on their semifinal finish, where they lost to the eventual league champions Washington Stealth in overtime.
Earlier in the week, the Rush designated goaltender Matt Disher and forward Gavin Prout as franchise players in order to prevent the two from become unrestricted free agents.
With Friday’s additions, Keenan is happy with the makeup of his club heading into next season.
“It’s always unfortunate when you lose a team in your league,” Keenan said.
“But like everybody else on Friday, getting players from Orlando makes everybody in the league better.”